A summary of the historical work of Immanuel Velikovsky
Part 8. Conclusions
This concludes our travel throughout a revised Egyptian history that I will summarize again, but more briefly. Between 1500 and 1100 BC the Hyksos were in power, who we know from the Bible as the Amalekites. Then came the 18th Dynasty, that fell apart in 830 BC after the death of Akhnaton, Tutankhamun and Ay. The Libyan occupation of Egypt followed, commonly known as the 22nd and 23rd Dynasty lasting not 230 years but only 120 years. Then came the 25th, Ethiopian dynasty for 50 years (the 24th dynasty reigned about the same time in the northwest of the Nile Delta). The 26th Dynasty that came to power around 665 BC was the same as the 19th Dynasty of Seti and Ramses II (or Psammetichus I and Necho II). This dynasty was ended by the invasion of the Persians in 525 BC. The Persian domination is called the 27th dynasty and lasted until 400 BC, when Nectanebo I defeated the Persian invaders. Nectanebo I and II were the 30th dynasty, but were at the same time part of the 20th Dynasty and we know them as Ramses III and Ramses VI. (The 29th dynasty existed during the Persian rule and their power was limited). After Nectanebo came another ten years of Persian domination and finally came Alexander the Great.
In this overview we have only omitted the remainder of the 20th Dynasty and al of the 21st Dynasty. In the second part of the "Sea Peoples" Velikovsky goes further into this. He believes that Ramses VII and VIII were not kings, but were only pretenders trying to gain power. Velikovsky provides arguments that some of the pharaohs of the 21th Dynasty lived during the Persian domination (just like Ramses IX and Ramses XI) and were similar to a high priest; some of them being contemporaries of Nectanebo I and II. Some of them, Si-amon for example, lived even later, in the Ptolemaic period.
The prevailing orthodox view of history summarized
In the prevailing view, the heyday of Egyptian history was the period of the 18th, 19th and 20th Dynasties. The beginning of the 18th Dynasty is placed around 1550 BC.Tuthmosis III conquered Canaan and returned with rich booty around 1475 BC. His successor, Amenhotep II had to withdraw, his successors restored their power and in 1340 BC, under Akhnaton, Egypt lost its power again. In the eighty years thereafter, Egypt's power was restored by, successively, Horemheb, Seti I and Ramses II. At first Ramses II battled against the Hittites, but in the end he signed a peace treaty with them in 1250 BC. Fifty years later Ramses III, the most important pharaoh of the 20th Dynasty, reported that the Hittite empire was crushed, but in turn he came into conflict with invaders from the north, the Sea Peoples and Pereset. It is remarkable, though, that he said he restored order in Egypt after a long period of foreign domination. Ramses III repelled the Sea Peoples and the Pereset in 1180 BC.
This was the last great military succes that we can find in Egyptian sources.
The next Egyptian king to appear in history is the biblical Shishak who plundered the temple of Solomon in 925 BC. It is assumed that Shoshenk of the 22nd Libyan Dynasty was Shishak. The Bible says that Zerah the Ethiopian was defeated 25 years later and we must assume that he advanced from Egypt to Palestine and had some power in Egypt. Egypt then played no role in the Bible until around 725 BC, when the king of Israel unsuccessfully hoped for support from the Egyptian king So in his fight against the Assyrians. Shortly thereafter, the Ethiopian king Tirhakah couldn't help Israel either. According to Herodotus the Egyptian Psammeticus fought against the Assyrians and his successor, Necos (Necho II), held some kind of balance of power with the new ruler in Mesopotamia, Nebuchadnezzar, until the end of the latter's empire around 600. The Bible says that Necho battled with Assyria near the river Phrat (the Euphrates) and that he killed King Josiah of Judah and captured his son. This is dated to 609 BC. Apries then came into conflict with Libyans and Greeks and Amasis welcomed them in Egypt until the Persians overran Egypt in 525 BC.
Surprisingly, the kings of the 18th, 19th and 20th Dynasties report their actions in detail, but for the activities of the later pharaohs we have to study the Bible, Greek historians and the Assyrian reports. It is logical that the Egyptians reported about their victories much more than about their defeats and we can imagine that Manetho, when making his dynastic divisions, rightly noted that the 18th Dynasty was the oldest and that some time thereafter came the builder of other great monuments, Ramses II. He noted that the next king who left quite a few buildings was Ramses III. The result seems to be that the consecutive periods of victories in Egyptian history have been placed directly one behind the other, with the result that the rest has become a little unclear.
When I first saw Earth in upheaval in a second-hand store I was interested, because in that book Velikovsky proposed disasters that affected Earth and deformed its surface in the remote past. To me it was interesting and funny, as I have always been interested and amused about other eccentricities, such as the theories about the assassination of President Kennedy, or the theory of the similarities between Julius Caesar and Jesus Christ.
I began to read and discovered that Velikovsky had theories about rather recent disasters and that he had extensive arguments for his theories. His book was well-written and his claims were easy to follow. I started looking for his other works and then for other works in the field of archaeology in order to test whether some truth could lie in Velikovsky's claims, or if, on the other hand, something could convince me that he must be mistaken.
From the beginning I didn't know what to think. Sometimes I thought that it could not all be true, but then again, the arguments seemed quite reasonable to me. I cannot deny that I thought it would be funny and hoped Velikovsky was right.
To put it simply, I initially thought there was a thirty percent chance that Velikovsky and his re-arrangement of ancient history were right. This percentage increased when I discovered that the scientists he quoted and the archaeological finds upon which he based his conclusions were not obscure details, but were from respected mainstream scientists and were real discoveries in the field of the history of the Middle East. Velikovsky mentions names and places that keep coming back in summaries of Egyptian, Greek or biblical history. Now, after making this summary, I have more confidence in Velikovsky's revision of history, let us say something more than fifty percent, but I keep in mind that maybe, somewhere, I've made an error in my thinking.
The work of Velikovsky encountered much resistance and he didn't make it easy for himself by having Worlds in Collision (in which he defended the controversial proposition that the orbit of planets in our solar system changed several times between 1500 and 700 BC, with devastating consequences on Earth), was published first. Also, he didn't present those ideas as a possibility, but as fact.
It was only two years later, while he was still engaged in fierce debate over his first work, that Ages in Chaos (in which he undermined the foundations of an entirely different branch of science - archaeology) was published. He asked himself if it wouldn't have been better to give more evidence for Worlds in Collision before engaging in a new battle with historians. However, he came to the conclusion that he should not postpone wrtiting his Opus Magnum.
The fact is, that his theory about the movement of the planets met too much resistance, so much so that he became known in the eyes of most of the scientific community as at best a dreamer and at worst a crook. He was accused of being a charlatan. However, no-one accused him of wrong or biased citation of the work of others.
Perhaps the resistance against Worlds in Collision gave Ages in Chaos, a false start. Now he was fighting on two fronts, to put it bluntly: he first said that astronomers were crazy and two years later he added that the archaeologists were also crazy, which made both astronomers and archaeologists come to the conclusion that it was Velikovsky who was crazy.
For this reason I have restricted myself in this summary to mentioning "major disasters" and to not go deeper into the background of those disasters, or into that particular theory of Velikovsky's.
There are people who defend the claims of Velikovsky, but it seems to me that what he says about disasters and planets will really be tested when what he says about the re-ordering of ancient history of the Middle East is accepted. If historians can demonstrate that Velikovsky's re-ordering must be wrong, then the rest of his theories will lose some (or all) of its credibility. If however, historians cannot give convincing answers to his claims, it's time to submit the rest of his views once more to a serious investigation, in order to find out what really happened between 1500 and 700 BC.
I have been searching for criticism of the work of Velikovsky, but, I must say, up to now, I have not found criticism that convinced me. Not many people have taken the trouble to criticize the work of Velikovsky in detail. Most people thought it was enough to mumble something about pseudo-science. It's no co-incidence that in shops for antiquarian books you'll find Velikovsky's books in the corner of esoterica and UFO's. The criticism I found often took one detail that, according to the critic, could not be correct. This criticism might be right, but I believe that for the historical work of Velikovsky it's not enough to point to a few incorrect details (which indoubtedly there are). An effective criticism should show the mistake in the complete structure Velikovsky made of ancient history.
For ancient history Velikovsky built a new structure next to the conventional one. Both structures have their errors, but at first glance, Velikovskys revised version of history is simpler and more elegant than the conventional version of the textbooks. I'm not an expert but I think the conventional history contains more absurdities than the revision of Velikovsky and in any case, I have never found a comprehensive criticism of why Velikovsky's revision is wrong.
Further, I would say that Velikovsky deserves not to be dismissed as a fraud. He deserves a thorough investigation and proper handling of his work. It might be wise to explain once more where Velikovsky made his mistakes. I do not think the debate is over yet or, as an employee of the bookshop once said when I bought a book by Velikovsky, "Yes, that's here to stay."
Easy to test
Velikovsky claimed that Egyptian history has been made much older than it really is - e.g. the great Egyptian kings were dated to before 1000 BC - while other civilizations in the eastern Mediterranean came after 1000 BC. In order to make things fit, the Egyptologists built a chronology of Egypt from the information that the Pharaoh's gave of their wars and then an empire of kingdoms in the lands surrounding Egypt was tied to that chronology. There was the land Punt, the Canaanites (who were much more civilized than often thought), the Sea Peoples, the Hurrians, the Mitanni, the Hittites and the Pereset.
These peoples have some things in common. First, little is known about where these peoples came from and where they went to. Secondly, many events seem to have happened twice; with Velikovsky seeing similarities in the experience of, respectively, the empire of Solomon, Judah and Israel; the Greeks; the Carians; the Chaldeans; the Medes and the Persians.
It should in fact be easy to test whether Velikovsky is right. The evidence for the correctness of one view or the other should be found in almost any excavation in Greece or the Middle East. In different layers, the succession of empires or kings can be found. Velikovsky claimed that in just about any location, the evidence can be found of the inaccuracy of the prevailing view of history, but if he is wrong the stratigraphy will show it. For example, if the remains of the 19th dynasty were located under the remains of the 22nd or 24th dynasty and not above them, as Velikovsky's theory requires them to be, or if the findings of the Hittites are located far below Assyrian finds, rather than just above them, as Velikovsky's theory demands they should be; or yet again, that Mycenaean objects are found under, instead of alongside, the objects with geometric shapes.
If Velikovsky's theory is nonsense, it must be clearly demonstrated that the examples he gives, are the rare exceptions to the general rule. However, there have not been many attempts to refute Velikovsky's theory in that direction. Possibly I did not search enough and maybe this criticism has been made, but for now I will assume that the absence of such criticism shows how hard it is to provide.